Website Tips

I've been running this website for a long time, and I've seen a lot of Pokémon websites come and go in that time. If you want to make a website, here are some tips from my experience for how to make it the best it can be.

General Webmastering

  • Make some substantial content before your start promoting your website. If you don't, there's not really anything to promote - people will take a look but not see anything interesting there and therefore leave without giving it a second glance.
  • Don't give up! I can't control your life, of course, but it deeply saddens me how many Pokémon websites die or get converted into graphic design sites within their first year or two. Try to make time to maintain your website once you have it.
  • It's not a good idea to call your site something with a domain extension, such as EnteiWorld.net, unless it's actually located on that domain. It's all well and good to intend to own it someday, but if people remember your site is called EnteiWorld.net, they'll try to get to it by typing "enteiworld.net" into their address bar. If you can't afford a domain yet, you're better off calling it just "Entei World" for now.
  • Be sure to learn HTML and CSS. There are easy site builders that let you create a website with drag-and-drop, but the freedom afforded by being able to build your site from scratch is well worth it and gives you a lot more flexibility in creating your pages.
  • Whenever you put a page up on your site, always immediately check the live version of the page and make sure all the links, images and scripts (if any) on it work. This is a matter of half a minute at the most for all but the most exceptional of pages, and it is absolutely essential to catching the inevitable typos you're going to make - trust me on this.
  • Continue to reread your sections every now and then after you put them up. It will both allow you to catch more mistakes that slipped through the cracks originally and help you keep them up-to-date.
  • Be a perfectionist, in general - encourage people to point out any errors they find, and when they do, be quick to fix them. You should care about the accuracy of your website. Anything else is just irresponsible.
  • Try not to break links, as far as possible. This means making an effort not to move your pages around or rename them after they've been made public, or at least ensuring that the old location continues to redirect or link to the new one. People in the future of the Internet are going to find years-old links to your site and click them, and you should do your best to ensure that whatever they were hoping to get at that link still works.
  • If you have major renovations to your site planned, don't put it on 'hiatus' while those renovations are happening. Develop the new version in a subdirectory or something of the like, keeping your content up as normal in the meantime. Most sites that go on 'hiatus' never come back - people quickly lose interest when the site is effectively down, and that lowers the webmaster's drive to finish the renovations.
  • Don't restrict anything to 'members only' unless there's a good rationale. Generally, the only good rationale for something being members-only is if it requires consistently recognizing the user, such as posting in a forum or certain types of games that necessitate storing information for/about the user, or if they involve user input which has been repeatedly vandalized. Restricting your most interesting content to members just because feels conspicuously like a cheap attempt to get more members, and that may actually repel people from your site.
  • Be humble; don't refer to your site as the "number one" anything or "THE BEST" anything. The quality of your site is not yours to judge; it's up to your visitors to decide if they think it's the best or number one.

Content

(Also see Page Pitfalls and Content-Writing for Dummies.)

  • Spelling and grammar are important - don't write in all caps, don't use chatspeak, and if you're not sure about the spelling of a word, look it up before using it. Proofread all your sections after making them. If your spelling is generally nothing to be impressed about, try typing your content out in Microsoft Word or another program with an integrated spellchecker, checking Pokémon names in my Gotta Spell 'Em All section, and then copying and pasting it into your HTML editor. Note that you should not write HTML tags into a word processor like Word since it can mess them up - if you're going to use it, just write the text there and add the HTML tags in once you're in your HTML editor.
  • Before putting cheats and tips on your site, test them yourself or at least make sure you have a very good reason to believe they will work. It's always better to be safe than sorry here. Double-checking your information for accuracy is just a good idea in general.
  • Don't fill your site with pages that say "coming soon!" or "under construction". If you want to include something on your menu that you haven't finished yet, don't make it a link until it's actually there - people should never have to click your links to find out the content they were promised doesn't exist.
  • Following from that, make sure your pages are complete and useful when you put them up - don't write guides for two of the Gym leaders in a game and then put it up with "Will be finished later!" at the bottom, for instance. It's too easy to forget about finishing it that way, and when a page is obviously incomplete, your visitors will feel cheated.
  • Try to maintain stylistic consistency in your sections. Always format parallel sections or pieces of information the same way, both in the basics (don't give one of your sections a special image as a header if you're not going to do that for all of them) and in the details (if you list some Gym leaders' Pokémon as "[Pokémon name] - level [level]", don't then suddenly change it to "[Pokémon name] Lv. [level]" halfway through). Also try to decide once and for all whether to, for instance, capitalize the names of Pokémon (they are trademarked and capitalized in all official literature, but an argument can be made that they theoretically ought to be noncapitalized as they aren't rightfully proper nouns) and stick with that throughout the site.
  • You're not obligated to have the same pages as everyone else just because you have a Pokémon site - in fact, the very fact everyone else has those pages means you especially don't need them on yours. Be original! Think of something nobody has ever done before, and people will have much more of a reason to visit your website rather than somebody else's.

Images

  • Try to keep your image use consistent. If your sections regularly contain images of, say, Pokémon that are being discussed, you should generally decide whether you want those images to be sprites (then which generation?), Sugimori art, your own artwork, etc., and then stick with that decision throughout. The same applies to game screenshots, boxes, etc.: try to make sure the images you use are of the same size, similar quality, in the same language and so on, as far as possible. Don't just Google whatever you want to illustrate and grab whichever image you think looks coolest - it'll look messy and unprofessional. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but do your best to avoid it otherwise.
  • If you do find images through random image searches, make sure they're either official art (such as Ken Sugimori's Pokémon artwork or the cartoonier Global Link art, or illustrations from the trading card game) or that the original artist permits them to be used freely. If the page it's from doesn't say, contact the artist and ask; if the page doesn't belong to the artist and the image isn't watermarked with a name or URL that could point you to where you can contact the artist, then leave it alone, even if you really love that image. And if the artist asks for credit to be given if you use their work, always do that. The least you can do for an artist who made something you like is not steal it.
  • Don't put images on your site just for the sake of having images. Layouts can have decorative images, and sometimes images are appropriate to illustrate a particular page, but putting a Lugia icon everywhere you talk about Lugia just because you think the icon looks neat distracts from the content your visitors are actually there for.
  • Do not direct link images. Direct linking is when your img tag refers to the complete URL of an image on some other website, as opposed to the relative path of an image on your own server. This is bad for two main reasons: when people visit your site, they will be using the other site's bandwidth to download the images, which could lead to their site being suspended or having to pay more; and if their site ever goes down, the images will stop working on your site too. There are exceptions, primarily where the owner of the other site specifically permits you to direct link (such as when they give you copy-paste HTML including an image direct linked from their server - this includes for example my quiz result images), but as a rule, don't do it unless you absolutely have to.
  • Don't put images designed for white backgrounds on a dark background or vice versa; if you have a style switcher of some sort, make sure all your images look okay in every style. If you see a jagged white or black outline around the image on your background, either only display the image on a background of the appropriate color or find another image to use. Otherwise it just looks messy.

Layouts

  • Use colors that are easy on the eyes. Generally good colors for use in website layouts are relatively dull (i.e. have a lot of gray in them) or light. Most people are more comfortable reading black text on a light background than vice versa, so if you're only going to have one color scheme, it's generally better to use lighter background colors and black (or near-black) text. If you have a darker layout, the text should be white or off-white. Prominently colored body text is almost always not a good idea.
  • Keep text to one color for all body text, with a different one for links. Also keep to one font and size. Headings, blockquotes and stuff like that, obviously, can be an exception, but all regular text should be consistent.
  • The best thing about style switchers is that they help you cater to people with different layout and color preferences. The first thing you should do if you have a style switcher is make one light and one dark style - some people prefer light and some prefer dark, so it's great to have something for both. You should also try to offer variety in the basic page layout if you can: some styles can be fixed-width while others are fluid; some can have navigation on the left and some can have it in drop-downs at the top; some can be compatible with older browsers while other styles use more fancy features that require newer browsers. The possibilities are endless.
  • Do not center your text. Things like headings can look good centered, but actual paragraphs are better off left-aligned or justified. When it's centered, the user's eye has to look for the beginning of the next line as they read, which disrupts the reading experience.
  • It's generally not a good idea to make links turn bold, italic or uppercase on hover, because this can change their width, which can also move things around after them. Text moving around when you move the mouse is extremely distracting and looks rather unprofessional. Sometimes this can even lead to 'flickering', where the text will change rapidly back and forth between the two states if the mouse is near the edge. It's better to stick to changing the link color and maybe giving it an underline or something of the like to indicate the user is hovering over it.
  • If you have a liquid layout (i.e. one that stretches to the full width of the user's screen), try to make sure your top banner blends smoothly into the background on the left and right sides - it looks odd when a banner in the top center is conspicuously squared off by itself.

Website Annoyances

  • Splash pages may seem neat, but going through them every time you visit a site gets grating - it's better to leave them alone and let your visitors see your content right away. The only exceptions are when there is some sort of technical reason or when the visitor must see something important before they enter the site. (By "important" I mean stuff like "This website contains adult content", not "This site is best viewed in Chrome or Firefox".)
  • If one of your sections has a long name that doesn't fit into your menu, try to find a something shorter that implies the same thing rather than turning it into an initialism. Your visitors should always know what they're clicking on your menu - having to click "TMATQ" or "DNCH" to know what on earth they are is annoying.
  • Resist the urge to introduce scripts into your pages just because they look cool. Your visitors are there for your content; anything that distracts from the content detracts from your site. Scripts should be used to make the site experience smoother and as part of the content, not to make things trail the visitor's cursor or make snowflakes fall down the page.
  • Avoid background music. You can include a music player if you like, but then be absolutely sure that it does not start playing automatically without the visitor very deliberately clicking a "play" button. Similarly, avoid autoplaying videos. For some people, sudden, unexpected sounds can be extremely upsetting or uncomfortable; some of your visitors may be browsing the site in a public place or at night, where sudden sound blasting out of their speakers could disturb others and cause them embarrassment; and others may simply want to play their own music.

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT